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Jason Waltz

Follow Jason on Twitter at @edjawz.

We’re excited to share our MIDWEST SPOTLIGHT EDUCATOR bios on The Connected Classroom! These K-12 educators demonstrate motivation, engagement, transformation and connection while using technology to improve teaching and learning. They will share their best practices at the MIDWEST EDUCATION TECHNOLOGY COMMUNITY CONFERENCE in February. This year, we have educators from across the state of Missouri presenting. The METC 2016 MIDWEST SPOTLIGHT EDUCATORS were selected by the METC Conference committee.

Jason Waltz is zealous about learning. During his career, he has sought to infuse technology so thouroughly that it becomes as “cool” as paper and pencil. After graduating from University of Missouri-Kansas City, Jason taught K-5 within the Raymore-Peculiar School District. He continues to serve Ray-Pec as the instructional technology specialist. He is completing his Masters at University of Central Missouri.
 Jason’s passion to help others develop their own passions has led him to many opportunities. He has presented at various conferences and seminars. He also enjoys facilitating edCamp style professional development; Jason established an after-school gathering of teachers sharing best practices which grew to include educators from surrounding districts. He contributes to local, regional and worldwide cadres of teachers seeking to enhance their practice and uses social media to engage with his professional learning network.

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educators at csd (EdPlus) Educators just like you are doing amazing things through online and blended learning opportunities, providing students experiences that are far beyond what’s possible in the traditional classroom.  As educators, we must prepare students to live in a world without physical boundaries and help students learn how to work with others, virtually or otherwise. You are invited to participate in a multi-session academy that explores the facets of online teaching and learning. Learn more …

STL RPDC 2015 Logo UpdateBlog post by Marlow Barton,
MELL Instructional Specialist

Does the state of Missouri strike you as “global” or “international”? If not, it may surprise you to learn that one of the fastest growing populations in Missouri public schools in grades K-12 is English Language Learners (ELLs). Kansas City houses the largest concentration of ELLs with nearly 12,000 ELLs in their school systems, St. Louis comes in second with nearly 10,000 and the Springfield and surrounding southwest region is third with nearly 6,000.

The top five languages spoken in these homes are Spanish-Castilian, Bosnian, Vietnamese, Arabic and Somali.

According to the Department of Education, during the 2012-2013 school year, the ELL population grew by 259% while the native English speaking population slightly declined. Last year alone, nearly 28,000 ELLs across the state of Missouri were tested for English Language Proficiency and the majority of these students are primarily in grades K-3.

How can Missouri schools best serve this growing population? The answer is constantly evolving. When a student enrolls in a Missouri public school they are given a “Home Language Survey”. If the family indicates that a language other than English is spoken in the home, the student is given a language proficiency screener. The scores from this screener determine if the student will receive direct English language instruction services. If so, the student begins ESOL (English to Speakers of Other Languages) services with a certified ESOL teacher.

A common question about teaching ELLs is “Do the teachers know all the languages of their students?” The answer is no. Thankfully, there are many methods for teachers to use without speaking the exact language of their students. ESOL programs and instruction differ across the state. Some districts pull ELLs out of the regular classroom for individualized instruction while other districts employ a “push-in” program bringing the ESOL teacher into the regular classroom. Other districts combine these methods. Co-teaching with an ELL teacher and general education teacher working together to provide comprehensible input is common while some use the Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol (SIOP). Interactive learning strategies, such as Kagan for ELLs, are helping to boost academic achievement as well.

Missouri is also a part of the WIDA (World Class Instruction and Design) Consortium which provides many tools to help teachers who instruct ELLs. One tool is called the “Can Do” Descriptors. This chart provides a “snapshot” of what a student can do at their current proficiency level and then the teacher can get an idea of how to take them up to the next level.

The ELL students in Missouri have many linguistic/cognitive and social/economic advantages over monolingual students because they are “bi-cultural and bi-literate” (Gusman, 2015) and they add a “cultural richness” to the classroom learning environment (Cole, 2014).

To learn more about ELL programs in the St. Louis area,
contact Marlow Barton at EducationPlus.

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The LearningLab is pleased to share that we have returning plus new year-long academies in place for 2015-2016. Participation in each of these academies includes admittance to the 2016 Midwest Education Technology Community Conference in February for participants! To learn more about the content, dates (each starts in October 2015 and runs through March 2016) and price of each academy, please visit our calendar or click on the infographic below. Registration is now open!

2015-16 edtech academies

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proposals due METC 2The METC ISTE affiliate is accepting proposals for the annual conference. The Midwest Education Technology Community Conference takes place Monday, February 8 through Wednesday, February 10 at the St. Charles Convention Center in the St. Louis, Missouri suburb. Learn more about what METC is seeking for the conference:

Monday, February 8, 2016 Pre-conference Workshops (two options)
Proposals due by August 25, 2015

3 Hour (Half Day) & 6 Hour (Full Day) Workshops

Pre-conference workshops are always provided on the first day of the METC Conference, Monday, February 8, 2016. They offer attendees the opportunity to attend a workshop that is hands-on and in-depth on a specific topic, tool, etc. Each workshop has a maximum number of slots and preregistration is required. All pre-cons are BYOD (bring your own device) and are located on site at the St. Charles Convention Center.

Tuesday-Wednesday, February 9-10, 2016 General Sessions (five options)
Proposals due by September 14, 2015

50 Minute General Session
Limited to three presenters. Consists of a presentation with resources and time for a Q&A period with attendees. 

50 Minute Panel Session
Limited to three to five panelists. Consists of a panel discussion on a common issue, question or topic that is relevant to conference attendees with time for a Q & A period.

1 Hour & 50 Minute BYOD Session (Double Session)
Bring Your Own Device. The emphasis in these sessions is interactive and hands-on time with a tool, product, etc. The focus of a BYOD Double Session should not be a tool, etc. that is not widely available or that would be associated with a fee for attendees.

50 Minute Exhibitor Plus Educator Session
An educator who is currently in the classroom must be the primary presenter for the session and selling of the product is not permitted. The focus is rather to show how the educator themselves uses the product.

50 Minute Exhibitor Demo Session
This allows the exhibitor to demo their product without the requirement of an educator as the primary presenter. Learn more on the exhibitor presentation info page.

For more information, please click here.

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photo by Stephanie Madlinger
photo by Stephanie Madlinger

We have several edtech offerings this summer, but for one week in July, it’s going to get a bit STEAMy, with design thinking, coding and project based learning scheduled! Registration is still open, so you can sign up today!

July 13-14: STEAM-ing It Up: Design Thinking in the Classroom; learn from Debbie Fucoloro and Christine Ruder. Beginning with essential questions, they will explore many strategies and practices available to maker educators– makerspace and PBL processes that include: LEGOs, littleBits, squishy electronics, Sphero, wearable computing, Arduino, recycling and robotics, coding and more… all of which allow educators and students to share, engage, explore and collaborate on their learning journey together.

July 15: Adventures in STEM: Learn to Code; Debbie Fucoloro continues to share her best practices in drag and drop programming in a hands-on, game-like constructivist atmosphere.

July 16: Project Based Learning & 21st Century Skills in the Elementary Classroom with LEGO Educationjoin Steffanie Forbes and Laura Jackson has they guide you through hands-on activities that cover modeling in science, math, engineering, language arts, reading, social studies and literacy– using LEGOs. 

July 17: Project Based Learning & 21st Century Skills with LEGO EducationSteffanie Forbes and Laura Jackson focus on the secondary classroom in their second day at EdPlus. Explore real world math, science, renewable energy and engineering, plus simple & motorized mechanisms and physics, again, in hands-on activities.

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principal pln imageAre you a principal? Who knows the challenges you face better than those who share your vision, determined mindset and quest for student and staff growth? Join us at our St. Louis/St. Charles regional professional learning network (PLN) meet up as we share conversations about the latest changes in the field and how others are implementing good practice across our counties. Topics covered will directly relate to area principals’ needs and interests. You don’t have to be an island— find out the difference a PLN can make to your good work! It might just be that boost that you’ve been looking for. Upcoming dates, times and locations include:

  • June 10  at  North Kirkwood Middle School for Middle School Principals | 8-9:30 a.m. | RSVP
  • August 26  at  EducationPlus (Craig Road) for High School Principals | 7:30-9:30 a.m. | RSVP
  • September 14  at  EducationPlus (Woodson Road) for Elementary School Principals* | 4:30 -6 p.m. | RSVP

Future elementary sessions* have already been scheduled, with November 9, January 11, March 7 and April 11 set. During the first middle and high school meetings, topics and new meeting dates will be discussed.

For questions regarding the principals’ PLNs, please contact Dr. Julie Sperry, director of leadership development at EducationPlus.

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